Chicago Mayor Wants Pot Decriminalization Statewide for 15 Grams or Less, Won’t Budge on Legalizing


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week said he doesn’t want people caught with small amounts of pot facing felony charges anymore and is pushing for decriminalization across the state.
Just don’t ask him to back legalizing anything, yet.

Emanuel said Wednesday that he’s in favor of the state adopting a Chicago law that makes the possession of 15 grams of pot a misdemeanor punishable by a ticket instead of arrest and jailtime. Fines would range from $250 to $500.
“It is time to put our sentencing policies in line with our values, reduce penalties for nonviolent, low-level drug offenses so we don’t put people in prison who need drug treatment,” Emanuel told lawmakers this week at the Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee. “The key issue is we really want comprehensive reform, and we want to reallocate resources we’re spending now on nonviolent, low-level offenders, so we can focus more on violent crime.”
However, maybe Emanuel – who is up for reelection early next year — should focus on getting his decriminalization plan to work in his own city, first. A Report issued in May showed that Chicago police weren’t enforcing the new rules evenly. Some have said his posturing on state marijuana laws is to gain support of black lawmakers in the state legislature before he asks them to tighten gun laws in the city of Chicago.
But while the mayor is open to decriminalizing, he isn’t open to legalizing, regulating and taxing cannabis. Yesterday he shot down his mayoral opponent, Karen Lewis, and her idea to even look into the possibility of legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis. He said legalizing pot isn’t the way to balance the budget.
But Lewis fought back, saying cannabis has already proven to be a source of additional income for Colorado and pointing out that Emanuel is being dishonest and hypocritical when he talks about the effects that marijuana legalization may have.
“I know for a fact that casinos have a devastating effect on families and communities, and people have lost their houses because they have gambling addictions and problems,” Lewis told the Chicago Tribune. “But recreational usage of marijuana is worse? Come on. How do you compare that, to you also promoting casinos, which damage families way, way, way worse?”